Monday, November 10, 2008

Entertainment or Education?

I’ve tried very hard to avoid the controversial topic of the BBC-Ross-Brand row, but having come across not one, not two, but three articles on the subject in Marketing Week, I just couldn’t help myself.

Now I’d like to point out that I don’t read Marketing Week for pleasure (apart from this week) but it is necessary for my job (and a very useful resource). I do read the BBC news website, however, and I have been following the row with interest.

While I agree that the BBC is in part an entertainment service and while agreeing that most of the complaints came from people who didn’t hear the original broadcast, I find myself on the side of the people saying ‘how did this happen?’. How did the BBC, an organisation supposed to entertain and educate, allow such puerile attempts at humour to be broadcast?

Yes, ‘cutting edge’ British humour is expected to push the boundaries. Yes, Monty Python did the same. Yes, by clamping down in a knee-jerk reaction the BBC may be more cautious over the content aired during shows like ‘Have I Got News for You’.

Yes, this is a rant.

But I personally have no problem with the people effectively paying for the BBC to be allowed to have some input as to what their money is spent on. I totally agree with Ruth Mortimer in Marketing Week where she says that

“…anger about Jonathan Ross’ salary – reportedly £18m over three years – has a lot more to do with this zeitgeist rage than anything else. He is employed by the BBC, which is funded by consumers paying their licence fees. People resent someone funded with their millions gratuitously offending old men while they worry about the next mortgage payment.”
I also agree with Iain Murray’s opinion that
“..for humour to advance beyond the naughty things that make children laugh, and to enter the realm of adult wit, you need an educated, literate audience able to appreciate allusion to a wider world that that of the nursery and the potty.”

We obviously don’t have that kind of audience in Britain…

Rant over.